Good day fellow mage forums denizens. Decided to make a thread on what I think is one of the underappreciated and less talked about specs for PvP which is entirely new this patch - SC/Pyro. You've heard of the PvE equivalent of this spec, the poor bad raid scaling one which seems to have been somewhat abandoned, but the formula translates incredibly well into PvP.
The build has fantastic kiting ability, high damage output on the move after short initial setup, and awesome AOE potential for when you do stop running around like a madman. The shortcomings are mostly a lack of utility - aside from fairly good CC potential and a tad of team buffs the build has no cleanses, purges or drains, and well as a shortage of selfheals, but not survivability. You can typically focus down opposing DPSers within a few seconds if left alone, whilst remaining mobile, and generally you have powerful enough hits at high rank to wear down lone healers/tank specs.
The build. Updated 9th Dec - with changes due to the Icicle fix.
I'll just run through a breakdown of the points allocations here, feel free to skip ahead to the playstyle.
35 SC: The points in this tree primarily maximise damage, picking up 5/5 Stretch of Cold and the key damage boosting 20-25pt talents. The other points go to utility - making Raging Storm root (invaluable for not being LoSed), picking up Ride the Wind and Storm Shard, and speeding up your Hypothermia spell casts. I also picked up Storm Guard, which lets me apply Electrified on the move, very much in the spirit of this build. If you wanted to ditch the AOE component of this build you could drop Charged field and Severe Weather (and/or Storm Guard) for more points in the damaging skills/Archmage, or remove Cold Weather training for points in Arctic Chill. Due to the Electrocute fix I added 3/3 Improved Electrocute, cutting one point of Cold Weather Training, one of Lightning Mastery, and one of Lightning Conductor. The small/situational damage gain from these I feel is less valuable than a rapid electrified builder - when killing DPS players the speedy application of debuffs is very valuable.
26 Pyro: This tree primarily acts as utility and a path to Spark. I pick up ST pushback reduction, Flicker, and all the beneficial passives for a PvP build. Instead of picking up a meagre 2% cast speed increase I took Flame Jet knockback, as on a 6sec CD it can come in handy. Burning Bright is chosen over Philosophy of Flame to allow for mildly stronger Flame Bolts and Infernos, though if you like to save charge so as to use multiple charge talents at once it is perfectly viable to choose that instead. I pick up Unbreakable Bonds and Backdraft after advice from several others - Burning Bonds is invaluable to ease applying Thunderbolt to someone running around (who may LoS you), or keep a melee off a teammate, whereas Backdraft->AOE provides a nice stun for you to get some AOE ticks off, acts as an interrupt, or slows down a group chasing an objective bearer. All not essential, but very nice tricks to have up your sleeve.
5 AM: Self explanatory really - no other 5 point investment offers better damage increase (SC would =4% air dmg boost and 5% water, Pyro would =10% while immobile for GoP). That and the ever useful Detaunt.
Notes: Once Electrocute is fixed I will almost certainly be picking it's cooldown reduction up with points from Lightning Conductor, Lightning mastery, and Cold Weather Training. These three small bonuses I feel are worth trading for a 50% faster way to apply Electrified with a built in knockback+root. I start every fight with an electrified builder, so having more available will be invaluable.
My philosophy in PvP resolves around having as many active tools as possible (without sacrificing too many passives) to max out my involvement in play and give me more situational talents to use. For this reason I have picked up Backdraft (and Cold Weather Training over Lightning Rod) as well as Unbreakable Bonds. Both are excellent CC and I recommend trying them, but for those who prefer fewer hotkeys or more raw damage, putting more points into the SC passives is a good option (Lightning Conductor and Lightning Mastery).
It's entirely possible to play the spec without macros, there isn't much that needs stacking together. I make use of a few simple ones, however. I macro most things together purely for convenience, as most skills are situational and need seperate buttons.
#show Flame Bolt
cast Flame Bolt
cast Ice Shear
#show Icy Vortex
cast Icy Vortex
cast Burning Shield
cast Break Free
Playing the spec:
This spec is imo hellishly fun and devastatingly effective as both AOE and mobile DPS. A 1second GCD combined with a host of instant casts allows for chaingunning of spells, absolutely wrecking all but the toughest targets in a matter of seconds if you aren't CCed, etc - whilst remaining mobile.
In this spec it's very important to think about positioning given you are somewhat squishy and can't heal to counter minor positional mistakes. be sure to make the best use of your mobility and chase people down and flee from incoming melee as much as you can, else you may as well play a different spec with less mobility and more survivability.
Buffs and consumables - use Flaring Intellect and Fire Armour. Using Static Discharge on cd/when you need burst and at the exact start of the match (to hit all your group members) is also advised. GoP's base 5% more dmg done immobile isn't enough to justify making yourself take 5% more damage. It can be used to reasonable effect whilst AOEing, but if under fire it is not at all worth it. Be sure to have a ton of drinks with you, you have no health regen abilities and your mana drains very fast (even more so with Doms about). For the same reason I'd take a lot of mana and health tonics as well. Otherwise the standard consumable advice stands.
In order to maximise damage on the target, you want 3 stacks of electrified, Flame Bolt buff, and Ice Shear. Hypothermia also increases your electrified builder's damage. Static Flux is a fantastic boost to finish targets, but due to the need for this spec to use charge to kite, I tend to only utilize it at highish charge, when under low threat, or to finish very tough targets. I tend to operate on the following system single target:
Flame Bolt (as running to target)
Raging Storm/Electrocute/3x Thunderbolt
Ice Shear (begin to strafe and don't stop)
Cloudburst->Lightning Field (and repeat)
Cloudburst tends to be slightly more powerful than Lightning Field, so I make use of both skills to generate burst - CB has travel time whereas LF does not, so both skills will typically hit together for big damage. Inferno is less powerful than fully debuffed LF by a significant amount, so only use it to finish cleansing/weak targets who don't have all your debuffs on them.
Now, the one spell missing from this rotation is Icicle - made instant by cast a ST air spell. I exclude it for a few reasons - how powerful the damn thing is, it makes an incredible finisher (hits for 2k+ on most non-tanks with 14k SP) and the effect of Hypothermia. Against a target who is chasing you, or you won't down in one rotation, throwing it out asap is entirely possible to slow the enemy - but saving the Storm Shard buff as long as possible can also be useful for bursting the enemy down - saving the buff to the last second, then hitting Icicle->Lightning Field will proc another Icicle for you to instantly cast. Use it with discretion, but try to have all your buffs up before casting it for max damage (at least after Ice Shear in the rotation, and where CB ususally would be).
The best use of reproccing Icicle as its ICD runs over was worked out by Overbyte, producing the best ST burst possible in this spec:
This stacks max buffs/debuffs and hits the enemy with two icicles in rapid succession, along with Countdown. It is a little longer than a typical rotation due to the partly obsolete Lightning Field at the onset and Countdown, which I don't typically use, but for the really tough targets it's a fantastic trick to know to help you burst them down. For added impact, hit Static Discharge first and put Static Flux on.
The well known AOE potential of SC loses a little from not picking up Overload and more SC points, but those familiar with it last patch should feel comfortable with the damage it does in this spec due to the new 20% AOE damage boost talent.
For a lot of enemies in a small area - Typically I use Backdraft to freeze the enemies in place while I cast Hailstorm and then Lightning Storm - the most stacked amount of AOE the spec can produce (hit Static flux for Lightning Storm if you can). Use Lightning Field to finish what is left. Be careful when pulling this roation as you need to remain still for ~10seconds to complete it, don't be afraid to skip part of it or cut Lightning Storm short to save yourself.
For a smaller group or one moving rapidly around, begin with Arctic Blast to slow and follow up with Forked Lightning to apply 3 stacks of Electrified to everyone you want to hit hard (can apply Ice Shear to a more pressing target), then again finish with Lightning Field before reapplying. Forked Lightning into Lightning Field is also what you want to do when your big AOEs are on CD.
Kiting and CC:
The second thing that makes this spec special (aside from chaingun instants) is kiting ability. Unlike relying on Hastened Withdrawl, you are the master of your own speed boost, and have Flicker to supplement it with. Using these is fairly self-explanatory, if you need to escape or chase, activate Ride the Wind and spam CB for extra charge, and unlike specs without Pyro, if CCed you are free to Flicker away and have Break Free in reserve. Ride the Wind+Flicker makes for a hilariously mobile and fun to play mage.
To mitigate the damage you take, you have Icy Vortex, Storm Guard, Burning Shield and Detaunt. Icy Vortex is the best pure mitigation, and applies Hypothermia to any attacking enemies. Be sure to use this to help yourself slow a group beating on you to get away. Detaunt is self explanatory - pick the target beating on you most and neuter them, just be careful what potentially AOE spells you combine it with so as not to break it. Storm Guard is invaluable for applying Elec to meleeing enemies on the move, as they are the hardest to get away from and kite properly. It does consume charge, so ideally pop it til the enemy is electrified up, then toggle it off and Ride the Wind on and run. Burning Shield is a decent pre-battle shield, or a last resort shield (it's worse than all the above).
CC wise, you have a few options. Any Hypothermia applying spell slows the enemy, but Flash Freeze goes another step and roots 8 in front of you for 8 seconds, broken on damage so best used when alone and jumped by a group to give yourself time to flee. Burning Bonds is the best ST root you have, lasting 8 seconds unless the enemy breaks it manually, so it's excellent for escape should you need it. Flame Jet is a low CD knockback, lovely for pushing people off cliffs on Codex. Burn is self explanatory, helps with melee, and Flashfire is potentially your most potent CC, but also the most risky due to the 2sec self stun. If the enemy breaks free or is immune, you gimp yourself, so perhaps use when Flicker is off CD.
Hope you enjoy the build! Any feedback or additional comments on the build would be appreciated.